PERRY TOWNSHIP – Perry comes into this season seeking a fourth straight Northwest Central Conference title and this year they will be under the direction of Seth Evans who comes in as the new Commodores head coach.
Evans, who served as an assistant the past three years, replaces Dan Baker and comes in confident and ready to be the main man and continue the winning Perry has established over the last several years.
“This place kind of motivated me,” said Evans, who is 25-years old, about assuming the head coach duties. “This place is awesome. This is my fourth year here and the time seemed right and I finally felt comfortable to take the head job and I finally felt I had enough confidence to take the role and I don’t see myself leaving for awhile so I thought what better opportunity that this one.”
Preparation. Evans is learning that this is one area that consumes his time as a head coach both on and off the football team.
One of his first priorities was putting together a staff and admitted it was a tough and got it finalized in June.
“My staff hs been great. I have nine coaches that are all here every day that are helping me out,” Evans said. “When I can have them do things and delegate and have enough trust within your staff to delegate it makes things a heck of lot easier. Some guys are new and some guys have been here so they know the kids. It is a nice mix of experience and youth.”
Evans said in order for the team to continue to win it starts with leadership from the players.
“A couple of years ago it was probably more on the coaches to get us prepared,” Evans said. “Being a part of those wins and seeing the progress from when these seniors when they were freshmen and the built up, and know they have had it and experienced it so it is their turn to teach the younger guys what they did, what the process was and how hard they worked.
“The senior class is big. There are 13 maybe even more so it’s nice and it is different positions.
Evans inherits a team that loses some strong talent but also retains a nucleus of players that has been part of the success the Commodores have enjoyed over the past several years. A total of 10 starters are back.
On offense, Evans is fortunate to have three-year starter Ryan Yingst back at quarterback, A first-team all NWCC selection, the versatile Yingst passed for 748 yards and 14 touchdowns and was a top threat to run as well, gaining more than 40 yards.
In addition to Yingst, Perry returns two top linemen in Hunter Klett and Demarion Gibson, both All-league performs and all-district honorees. Senior Demetrius Johnson, sophomore Elijah Caudill joins to the two seniors
A veteran group highlights the receiving corps with Terry Riley, Kobe Ochieng and Andrew Clavell being the top targets.
Ty’re Sibert returns in the backfield.
“Offense, this is kind of my specialty since I have been calling the offense the last three years and probably still continue to do that this year. It is nice to have the quarterback back,” Evans said. “I don’t have to start from bare bones. I don’t have to teach that. It is the same system we have been running since I have been here so that it is awesome and super nice and for those guys coming back it is clicking now and they are picking it back up.”
Because of the small numbers, 35 total players, a number of these players will be on the defensive side of the ball, adding stability. However, depth is always an issue.
“We did lose some good pieces and a lot of guys depth-wise too,” Evans said. “They might not have been two way starters but rotational guys who you need especially with our numbers. When you lose some of those guys who play a lot but don’t start that is big time for us so we have some young guys that are going to get an opportunity to play.”
Evans added that the focuses is on the offensive and defensive lines.
“I’m a big trenches guy,” Evans said. “I feel if we are not solid there that it doesn’t matter how much speed or how good our quarterback is because if he doesn’t have time to throw or holes for guys to run through we are not going to be successful. That is might biggest concern on both sides of the ball.”
Evans also has his eyes on shoring up the defense and the departed Baker was the defensive guy so he knows he has to get his “head wrapped around everything” and trying to get the defense ready to go as well as the offense.
Evans said communication on the defense is going to be essential.
“We want them to speak more and let these young guys know where they are supposed to be before the ball is snapped,” Evans said. “We are teaching leadership and so far it has been pretty good.”
Being the league champions is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it instills confidence in the team on the other hand it puts a target on the team’s back and Evans understands they have to find a balance with the two.
“I think we have to understand that just because we have won the last couple of years it doesn’t mean anything,” Evans said. “I think we have to continue to have that chip on our shoulder like we have had. I still think we have to come in and grind like we haven’t won anything and we can’t take our success for granted. We can’t take our athleticism for granted and our skill for granted. We have to continue to work and put in the time and not just show up on Friday night and expect to win.
“We are still going to have to work for it and I think that is the main thing I am trying to tell them. It is harder now. The team’s in the league want to beat you because you have won it.”